Ethan is a 9 year old student currently in Year 4 and attends his local school. He has a significant eye condition which greatly impacts on his accessing the curriculum especially with literacy.
Ethan is able to use enlarged readers and worksheets at some points during the school day but can become visually fatigued.
Marg Crosswell talks about how Ethan’s main goal for this year has been to learn braille and so he has been practising brailling the alphabet on the Perkins brailler (figure 1).
Learning the alphabet
Ethan has learnt the alphabet and 59 shortform words, the fullstop, capital letter and the number sign.
He is starting to learn to read braille using made up worksheets. Figure 2 is Ethan’s first full page of braille.
- Correct finger placement on the Perkins Brailler.
- Separation of fingers.
- Correct pressure on the keys.
Possible next steps
- To learn all whole word signs.
- To learn all shortform words , lower cells and common combinations.
- To write full sentences in grade one braille.
- To read braille using two hands.
- To trial using different technology i.e. braille note.
Teaching methods and strategies
Ethan followed a direct instruction approach. This involves introducing the braille alphabet in a specific way.
The programme involves teaching the braille alphabet first. Ethan’s learning style meant he learnt and remembered the different letters of the alphabet by saying the dot number. ie for y 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 or sometimes he would say k and 4, 5, 6.
Using different medium ie peg board with six pegs. Brailled single letter and word cards.
Figure 3 shows a different medium using a peg board with six pegs.
A braille checklist was used as part of the assessment. Ethan went up to Homai for a week with the National Assessment Service team to get an updated record of his vision. At this assessment it became evident that braille had become a good option.
Professional Readings and Resources:
- Instructional Strategies for Teaching braille – Paths to Literacy website.
- Teaching Braille to Young Children – Paths to Literacy website.
- Braille FUNdamentals: A Braille Curriculum for VI Students from Primary to High School Levels – TSBVI website.
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